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Statutory Guidance on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 (‘the Act’) amends the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (’the 2007 Act’) to introduce duties and powers for health and wellbeing boards in relation to Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies (JHWSs).

This statutory guidance explains the duties and powers relating to JSNAs and JHWSs. This guidance does not cover the wider membership of health and wellbeing boards, or what services should be commissioned in response to local JSNA findings and JHWS priorities – these decisions need to be made locally, depending on circumstances, and subject to duties to have regard to the relevant JSNAs and JHWSs. Further supporting materials, including advice on good practice will be published alongside this statutory guidance.

In the Act, the Government has set out a new vision for the leadership and delivery of public services, where decisions about services should be made as locally as possible, involving people who use them and the wider local community. The Act supports the principle of local clinical leadership and democratically elected leaders working together to deliver the best health and care services based on the best evidence of local needs. JSNAs and JHWSs are an important locally owned process, through which to achieve this. As such, and with duties that fall upon local parts of the system, each health and wellbeing board is likely approach them according to their own local circumstances. It would not therefore be appropriate for central Government to be prescriptive about the process or to monitor the outputs.

The purpose of JSNAs and JHWSs is to improve the health and wellbeing of the local community and reduce inequalities for all ages. They are not an end in themselves, but a continuous process of strategic assessment and planning – the core aim is to develop local evidence-based priorities for commissioning which will improve the public’s health and reduce inequalities. Their outputs, in the form of evidence and the analysis of needs, and agreed priorities, will be used to help to determine what actions local authorities, the local NHS and other partners need to take to meet health and social care needs, and to address the wider determinants that impact on health and wellbeing

In preparing JSNAs and JHWSs, health and wellbeing boards must have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State (this guidance, and any future revisions issued), and as such boards have to be able to justify departing from it.